The race to be the new US president is down to the final three. But on key issues affecting this region, which candidate would stand out once America votes?
ON DP WORLD
In 2006, Dubai Ports World purchased the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) of the United Kingdom, which was then the fourth largest ports operator in the world, for £3.9 billion (Dh28.5bn). After the deal was secured, it was reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States headed by the Treasury Department and including the Departments of State, Commerce, and Homeland Security. It was given the green light, but soon after, both Democratic and Republican members of Congress expressed concern over the potential negative impact the deal would have on port security.
Hillary Clinton opposed the DP World takeover and in March 2006 proposed legislation to block it, arguing that the US could not afford to “surrender our port operations to foreign governments”. However, her husband and former US president Bill Clinton at the time reportedly “advised top officials from Dubai on how to address growing US concerns over the acquisition of five US container terminals by DP World”.
Barack Obama opposed DP World’s ownership of American ports. On February 21, 2006, he said: “Over four years after the worst terrorist attack in our history, not only are we failing to inspect 95 per cent of the cargo that arrives at US ports, but now we’re allowing our port security to be outsourced to foreign governments. Clearly, more time should have been spent investigating this deal and consulting with homeland security experts and local officials. I support my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are seeking a full review of this deal.”
John McCain said on the DP World deal that he believed Americans “should trust the president [George W Bush] on this issue.”
A US intelligence assessment published in December 2007 concluded that Iran had halted a nuclear weapons programme in 2003, but President Bush has stressed that Iran is “still dangerous”.
Clinton last week told a leading pro-Israeli lobby group that on Iran “US policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons… In dealing with this threat… no option can be taken off the table”.
Obama has pledged to “meet directly with Iranian leaders” without preconditions but has also stated in the past that he would also use “surgical strikes” if necessary.
McCain is infamous for answering a question on what the US should do about Iran by adapting the Beach Boys classic song Barbara Ann to Bomb Iran. Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb… Iran.
ON THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY
The US economy grew by just 0.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2007 and there have been falls in employment in construction and manufacturing. President Bush has unveiled a $150bn stimulus package but fears persist that a downturn in the US could affect the global economy.
Clinton is reportedly not keen on free trade pacts or world trade talks. This could leave the Free Trade Agreement talks between the UAE and US permanently on ice. She has also detailed a $70bn plan designed to “jump start” the American economy.
Obama voted in favour of the US free trade pact with Oman. He is also reportedly in favour of using trade as a way of securing labour reforms in developing nations such as China. He plans to stimulate the American economy with tax breaks and incentives to help middle-class families struggling with rising costs and stagnant salaries.
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